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5-A Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke (The Oxbow), 1836
Tatiana Kobzina


Theme: Landscape
Lesson Plan Title American Landscape and its reflections in the course of history
Subject areas: Visual Arts; U.S. History; Hudson River School: landscape painting
Skills covered:
Analyzing primary sources
Observation and description
Internet research skills

General Goal:
1. Introduce American Landscape of the 19 century.
2. Understand the esthetic issues around nature, found in America.
Specific objectives:
At the end of the lesson students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the main ideas of representatives of the Hudson River School.
  2. Describe the scenery created by Thomas Cole.
  3. Be able to define Coles views on landscape painting and American European nature.

Materials/ Visual Aids:
Picturing America Educators Resource Book
Artwork 5a View from Mount Holyoke (The Oxbow), 1836
Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery (Love of Nature, Appreciating American Scenery)
Time: 45 min
Step-by-step procedures:
Lead-In: whole class activity (7 min)

  1. Show students 4 pictures from Hudson River School. Explore what students feel about this landscape painting. Free writing activity accompanied by quiet music.(Vivaldi)
  2. Tell what their impressions are.

Activity 1. The teacher gives a presentation about Hudson River School. (6 min)
Activity 2.

A. Encourage students to carefully examine the painting for 2 minutes and describe it. ( in pairs ) (10 min)
What details--such as people, objects, do you notice?
What information about the time period, location, and season can you gather from this painting?
What can you see in the foreground? In the middle? In the background?
Is the painting in somewhat religious? (The teacher presents religious aspects of the painting)

B. Identify the contrasts in the painting (whole class activity) (7 min)
Have students identify other contrasts. Ask for students ideas. The teacher facilitates this discussion and fills in the Venn Diagram.
Dark-light (The teacher only presents this option.) Ask for students ideas.
Low land-hills
Dark green-light green

C. Interpreting the content (group activity) (8 min)
Create three groups and assign a question to each to discuss.
1. By selecting a panoramic view from a height above the valley, what is the artist suggesting.
2. The storm adds dynamism as does the twisted tree in the foreground. Why does the artist paint himself as a small, but significant figure.
3. What is ambivalence? Is the artists message here ambivalent about the relationship of man and nature?
Which message do you get?
Is nature stronger than man?
Should man control nature?

D. Reporting back to the class from discussion. (6 min)

Ask students about three things they learned, two questions they have, and one thing they liked.


  1. Have students read more about Thomas Cole and Hudson River School and prepare a virtual guide or mini-presentation on artists or famous works of art.
  2. If you were living, (as most Americans were in this period) as a European immigrant in crowded, unhealthy East coast cities, how might you view this painting and the landscape it represents? What kind of contrast would there be, might you feel?
  3. Have students find their favorite Russian or American landscapes and describe them (small group presentations)
  4. Make a virtual tour on www.explorethomascole.org/tour and make a presentation on what youve learnt new and interesting.

Make a project.

  1. Go to the local museum and find a picture of a landscape and write two paragraphs about the artist, historical period and one paragraph interpreting the meaning or your feelings.
  2. If the artist is living and available, interview him/her about the art of landscape painting. Prepare 8 good interview questions and translate and edit the answers.
  3. Read two abstracts from abstracts from Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm (Love of Nature, Appreciating American Scenery) and do exercises.

Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery Source: Internet www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm and www.lessonwriter.com

1. allude-(v) - To hint at. To talk about something without directly talking about it/ ,
2. encompass-(v) - To include/
3. perception-(n) - A feeling or Information gotten by the senses, not words/
4. salutation-(n) - Any form of greeting, hailing, or welcome, whether by word or act/
5. sensual-(adj) - Related to the body's senses and pleasure/
6. cultivate-(v) - To help grow or develop/,
7. devoid-(adj) Without/
8. gaze-(v) - Look calmly/
9. drift-(v) - To travel without steering or guiding, go in the same direction as the wind or water/
10. cease-(v) - Stop doing something/ ,
11. wreath-(n) - A decoration made by tying flowers, branches and leaves together in a circle/
12. obtain-(v) Get/
13. bound-(v) - The limit or end/
14. refine-(v) - To make pure by removing unwanted substances/ ,
15. selfish-(adj) - Caring only for oneself; not caring for other people/

2 Reading Abstract from Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery [1. The Contemplation of Scenery as a Source of Delight and Improvement]

  1. Underline important parts of the text.
  2. Circle words or phrases in the text that you dont know.
  3. Put a question mark (?) next to statements you have a question about.
  4. Put a check mark (?) next to statements that you agree with.

He who looks on nature with a "loving eye,"., and human deeds hallowed all around.

Find important sentences in the reading, put them in the 'Quote' column below, and explain why they are important.

Quote from text.

What does this quote mean? Why is it important?



And it is here that taste, which is the perception of the beautiful, and the knowledge of the principles on which nature works, can be applied, and our dwelling-places made fitting for refined and intellectual beings.

Identify 3 important supporting details that contribute to the main idea of the passage.




Identify 2 details that are not very important to the main idea of the passage.



Write 1 brief paragraph summarizing the main idea of the passage. Use the important details to support your discussion of the main idea.


3 Comprehension Questions

1. Where should city-dwellers go to escape "turmoil"?

__________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________

2. What does Cole describe as "that wreath of glory daily bound around the world"?

___________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

3. What kind of delights can a man experience in nature?

____________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

4. Does Cole believe that "human hands" spoil, have no effect on, or improve nature?

____________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

5. Is "cultivated scenery" as important as "wild scenery"?

___________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

6. How does taste, according to Cole, create appropriate places for cultured, thinking people to live?

_________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

4 Vocabulary

1. There's a Christmas _______________________ on the door.
2. Her boss told her to _______________________ whistling at work.
3. The bottle _______________________ in the ocean for years before it washed up on the beach.
4. He _______________________ a degree in engineering.
5. On the bus, putting your feet on the seat next to you is _______________________.
6. White rice is more _______________________ than brown rice.
7. The US is _______________________ by the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Pacific in the west.
8. The young couple held each other and _______________________ at the sunset.
9. In everything sudden and unexpected, we are apt to start; that is, we have a _______________________ of danger, and our nature rouses us to guard against it. - E Burke - On the Sublime and Beautiful
10. Cooking _______________________ many ways of heating food: boiling, frying, roasting, etc..
11. He _______________________ to the war when he spoke of his country's current problems.
12. The man raised his hand in _______________________ as we entered the room.
13. She hates me. She smiled, but the smile was _______________________ of warmth.
14. Oranges are _______________________ in Florida.
15. Sleeping on silk sheets is _______________________.

It is created with the help of www.lessonwriter.com
Appreciating American Scenery and Wildness (Abstract from Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery). www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm
     Source: www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm and www.lessonwriter.com

  • Vocabulary

1. pass away-(pv) die /
2. destitute-(adj) - Without money or resources; extremely poor/
3. enlighten-(v) - To open the mind to new ways of thinking/
4. magnificence-(n) - Showing greatness of action, character, intellect, wealth, or power /
5. monotonous-(adj) - Boring, constantly repeating without change /,
6. predominant-(adj) - The most common/ ,
7. primeval-(adj) - Belonging to the first ages/
8. primitive-(adj) - Related to the beginning; before civilization / ,
9. cultivate-(v) - To help grow or develop/, ,
10. vast-(adj) - Very large/
11. distinctive-(adj) - Having a style different from most others/ ,
12. suspend-(v) - Stop temporarily/
13. prejudice-(n) - A judgment or opinion formed without facts / ,
14. strive-(v) - Try to achieve a result/ ,
15. circumstance-(n) - Condition or situation/,
16. wilderness-(n) - Land in its natural conditional/
17. scarcely-(adv) - To a small degree or amount/
18. behold-(v) - To see or look at / ,
2 Reading Thomas Coles Essay on American Scenery Source: Internet www.csun.edu/~ta3584/Cole.htm and www.lessonwriter.com
[The Elements of American Scenery]

  1. Read the entire passage quickly and generate questions using the graphic organizer below.
  2. Read the passage again more carefully and try to answer your questions.

Thick Questions
Big questions that you need to THINK and SEARCH to find the answers to.
Why does the author think that?
What would happen if ?
Why does?

Thin Questions
Smaller questions that you can find the answer to RIGHT IN THE TEXT.


Possible Answers


Possible Answers





3 Comprehension Questions

Select the correct answer for following multiple choice questions.

1. Some people claim that American scenery is:
( A ) sublime
( B ) interesting
( C ) picturesque
( D ) monotonous

2. Cole is trying to...
( A ) Say European nature isn't spectacular
( B ) Infer American nature is inferior to European
( C ) Say European scenery is best
( D ) Argue American nature has special features

3. Cole claims that some Americans can't see beauty until:
( A ) they go to the mountains
( B ) they visit foreign countries
( C ) they open their eyes
( D ) they study art

Select the correct answer for following multiple choice questions.

4. In paragraphs 3 & 4, Cole is saying that:
( A ) Wildness is a distinctive characteristic of American nature
( B ) Wildness is impressive and magical
( C ) The American Continent is very "new" and undeveloped.
( D ) Gloom is caused by savage beasts and men

4 Vocabulary
1. His telephone service was _______________________ because he forgot to pay the bill.
2. He is _______________________d against people from that country.
3. The ocean is _______________________.
4. She doesn't dress like her friends; her clothes are always _______________________.
5. The door was so low they could _______________________ walk through it.
6. They _______________________ the beautiful sky until the sun went down and it was too dark to see.
7. The _______________________ of her childhood were difficult.
8. Large parts of western Canada are _______________________.
9. He felt _______________________ after reading Plato.
10. The king's _______________________ was apparent when we saw his gigantic, expensive castle.
11. After their husbands _______________________ many women move to smaller homes.
12. Their homes and jobs were destroyed by the earthquake and they were all _______________________.
13. The teacher's _______________________ voice put the students to sleep.
14. Modern medicine keeps us alive longer, but _______________________ people died young.
15. Oranges are _______________________ in Florida.
16. English is the _______________________ language in the United States.
17. An old castle seems _______________________ compared to a new house

11)pass away

5 Focus on Grammar
A Identify

When we know something is true now we use a simple present tense of a verb. When we are not sure, we use a modal before the verb to show how likely we think it is. For example, if we see rain falling, we say "It is raining"
because we know it is; we are 100% sure.
If we are indoors and cannot see the weather but do see a wet person holding an umbrella, we say "It must be raining" because that is very likely true; we are 95% sure.
In cases where we are less certain, for example, if the newspaper said there was a chance of rain today but we cannot see outside, we say "It may be raining.", "It might be raining." or "It could be raining." (these three are all the same).
How sure is the speaker in the sentence(s) below?

1. But I would have it remembered that nature has shed over this land beauty and magnificence, and although the character of its scenery may differ from the old world's, yet inferiority must not therefore be inferred;
2. [ The Elements of American Scenery] There are those who through ignorance or prejudice strive to maintain that American scenery possesses little that is interesting or truly beautiful-- that it is rude without picturesqueness, and monotonous without sublimity-- that being destitute of those vestiges of antiquity, whose associations so strongly affect the mind, it may not be compared with European scenery.

B Practice - Sentence Writing
Write original sentences using the grammar in this exercise.

1. _________________________________________ _______________________________________

2. ___________________________________________ _____________________________________

3. __________________________________________ ______________________________________

4. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________

5. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________


List of References:
www.wikipedia.com (about Hudson River School and Thomas Cole)
Thomas Coles essay (www.csun.edu)
GLOSSARY Artwork 5a View from Mount Holyoke (The Oxbow)
Verdure (n) greenery: green foliage / , ,
Pastoral (n) a place, atmosphere, or idea is characteristic of peaceful country life and scenery/
Emblem (n) something that represents a quality or idea /
Ominous (adj) threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments / ,
Sacrilege (n) behavior that shows great disrespect for a holy place or object/ ,
Ambivalence (n) conflicting feelings or thoughts; uncertainty or indecisiveness as to what course to follow/